Quote of the Day: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. Constitution of the United States, Amendment 14 part 1.
Playwright and actor Heidi Schreck wrote this play about her own experiences with the Constitution of the United States, how her speeches and debate earned her college tuition, and how it affected her life and generations of women in her family. She weaves humor into the serious subjects that she brings to light in this achingly candid memoir play about her life and hardships in her family. At times, it was hard to hear the information. I had tears in my eyes several times as she talked about abuse towards women and the helplessness they can feel when the law does not protect them.
Cassie Beck is playing Heidi Schreck in this touring production of What the Constitution Means to Me, directed by Oliver Butler. Heidi Schreck wrote and starred in the play when it was on Broadway in 2019, and started the tour before it was shut down in the Spring of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mike Iveson, who plays the Legionnaire and himself, was in the original Broadway cast and is also in this touring production. He is a supporting character and also has a chance to tell his story. At the end of the play, a young woman comes out to debate with Cassie/Heidi. Jocelyn Shek played that role in the performance that I saw. They debate whether we should keep the Constitution as is, or change it. So many stories from this play really make you think about who is protected by this document, and who isn’t, and you wonder how it could be better. I’m still processing it all.
This script, Heidi’s very personal story, draws you in immediately. The moment she comes out onto the stage, she addresses the audience and invites us into her story. We can’t help but connect. We lean in to hear her words, laugh at her jokes and her infatuation with actor Patrick Swayze, cringe at the harsh treatment, cry for her and the women whose stories she tells, and make that guttural sound of disgust at the unjust treatment of women. I wasn’t the only one wiping away tears. Audience members are audibly moved by her words. Sitting in the audience with other people who are experiencing this story at the same time as you is a bonding experience. Perhaps the emotions were stronger because we have been forced into isolation so long and missed this type of gathering and community building. Theater is my lifelong and I am grateful to have it back.
You can see What the Constitution Means to Me at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN through October 24, 2021, the first stop for this touring show. The Guthrie Theater is requiring proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of the performance to enter the theater, and masks must be worn throughout the show and while in the building.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Do you think the Constitution of the United States protects all its citizens equally?
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Since we are seeing it challenged and not in all ways good, bet this was a very thought-provoking play.